For those of us who feel
the spooky season is simply not long enough, heading out on a ghost adventure of our own can be exhilarating. Whether that’s because you meet a ghost or because you have the place to yourself, haunted hotels and accommodations offer unique history, luxe digs, and the possibility of paranormal encounters.
Plus, visiting places that unsettle us — part of what is known as “
recreational fear” or “dark tourism” — can actually be a valuable tool in life. “We learn something about the dangers of the world,” Mathias Clasen, director of the Recreational Fear Lab at Aarhus University in Denmark, explained to the . “We learn something about our own responses: What does it feel like to be afraid? How much fear can I take?” Washington Post
But don’t worry: The following haunted hotels are more
than Eat Pray Love The Exorcist. So, grab your sweetheart, your bestie, your bravest kid, or just go solo (if you dare) and head to one of these destinations for an overnight stay you’re sure never to forget.
The St. Anthony Hotel: San Antonio, Texas
This luxurious downtown hotel opened its doors in 1909, the first of its kind in San Antonio. Famous folks from Eleanor Roosevelt to George Clooney have been staying here ever since. Guests of a more transparent nature include the frequently spotted Lady in Red, seen wandering coordinates.
Guests have reported checking into a room to find it occupied by a couple sipping cocktails, returning to the desk only to learn that the room should be unoccupied. Upon revisiting the room, they will find that the room is, in fact, empty. Other guests have reported rattling door knobs, random knocking on hotel room doors, the sound of items being thrown around the room, and even the vision of a woman in all black walking the halls of the 10th floor.
The hotel is situated a stone’s throw from the River Walk and was exquisitely revamped in 2015.
Holbrooke Hotel: Grass Valley, California
Located in the Sierra Nevada foothills in the little Gold Rush town of Grass Valley,
the Holbrooke Hotel was built in 1852 and has hosted an array of interesting overnight guests, including Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and even the notorious highwayman Black Bart.
It’s also dubbed one of the most haunted hotels in the Sierras. Sightings include the spirit of Black Bart, a floral-dress-wearing woman seen in and around the kitchen, and creepy ghost kids playing in the hall, among other sightings.
The hotel underwent a massive renovation and restoration, reopening in 2021. The hotel also recently won Tripadvisior’s Travelers’ Choice award, so even if you don’t spot a ghost, you’ll likely have a stay to remember.
Hotel Monteleone: New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is no stranger to ghosts, but the
Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter delivers on luxury and history. The famous rotating Carousel Bar was frequented by literary great Tennesse Williams and was the setting for Eudora Welty’s short story “The Purple Hat.” Supernatural experiences are not uncommon. According to the Hotel Monteleone website, there have been strange events for years: doors that open on their own, shadowy children playing in the hall, elevators that go to the wrong floor, and the ghost of a toddler who passed away in the hotel.
The Queen Anne Hotel: San Francisco, California
Though the cost of overnight hotel stays in San Francisco may be more frightening than any ghost, the
Queen Anne was originally built in 1890 as a boarding school for young women. Six years later, it shut down. While the building survived the 1906 earthquake and several fires, it didn’t reopen until 1980 as an upscale bed-and-breakfast.
Today, the Queen Anne is a Kimpton-owned boutique hotel with a few unusual overnight guests: Mary Lake, the former headmistress of the boarding school, has been seen by more than one guest in and around Room 410, thought to be her office. But don’t be too frightened: Other than cold spots and moved objects, guests report the feeling of being tucked into bed.
The Silver Queen Hotel: Virginia City, Nevada
Photo: The Silver Queen Hotel
Built in 1876,
this quirky spot includes a saloon, wedding chapel, and hotel all in one. It’s also one of the most haunted hotels in Nevada. Guests report hearing strange knocks on their door and arguments in the hallway, only to open the door to find no one there — along with strange noises throughout the night and two different wandering ghostly women. If you’re feeling extra brave, book Room 15. It’s said to be the most haunted.
The Stanley Hotel: Estes Park, Colorado
No list of haunted hotels is complete without including the
Stanley Hotel. Though the movie was not filmed here, the hotel itself is the inspiration for Stephen King’s Overlook Hotel in his novel The Shining. The sprawling historic property built in 1909 boasts live concerts and immersive Halloween balls, and it even allows guests to book rooms with “high paranormal activity” through a special link. These include 401, 407, 428, and the Stephen King Suite: Room 217.
In the 1970s, King lived in Boulder, Colorado, and took a weekend away to Estes Park with his wife. He booked Room 217 on the last day the Stanley Hotel was open for the season, so it was largely unoccupied. That night, he had a wild nightmare that became the outline for
The Shining. Most guests report cold spots, disembodied voices, and sightings of the phantoms of the original hotel owner and his wife.
The Palmer House Hotel: Sauk Centre, Minnesota
Photo: The Palmer House Hotel
This unassuming historic hotel is frequently listed in Minnesota’s most haunted lists and has been featured on numerous paranormal shows, including
Ghost Adventures and Hotel Paranormal (hosted by Dan Akroyd). One of the most common apparitions is the ghost of a little boy.
According to the
Palmer House website, investigations have stated that Room 11 is always cold, furniture gets moved in Room 17, and noises come from Room 18 when it’s unoccupied. The hotel offers tours to learn about its history, famous people associated with it, and the “unregistered” guests.
Limerock Inn: Rockland, Maine
One look at
this serene bed and breakfast in small-town Maine, and you’d never think it was full of ghosts. This 1892 home was purchased by Dr. Oren Lawry in 1950 for use as his medical practice, and many locals today still refer to it as Dr. Lawry’s house. He sold the home to a couple in 1994, who established it as the eight-room bed and breakfast it is today.
Overnight guests have reported seeing apparitions in the parlor, the foyer, and the stairwell. Many believe these are the ghosts of former patients. Others have reported voices in the parlor.
The Dunhill Hotel: Charlotte, North Carolina
If Charlotte is the Queen City, then
The Dunhill Hotel is a jewel in her crown. The hotel, formerly known as the Mayflower Hotel and Apartments, opened in 1929 but fell into disrepair and closed in 1981. During renovations in the ‘80s, a skull was supposedly unearthed in the basement.
When it reopened in 1988 as The Dunhill, the historic boutique hotel received rave reviews about the service
and the haunted happenings. Heavy footsteps, apparitions, and even one account of a woman repeatedly witnessing a spectral man falling past her window are all regular occurrences. Room 906 is supposed to be the most haunted, with flickering lights and mysterious knocking sounds.
Green Mountain Inn: Stowe, Vermont
Photo: Green Mountain Inn
Another charming inn in a picturesque town,
the Green Mountain Inn is said to be one of the most haunted places in Vermont, thanks to the resident ghost, Boots Berry. Boots was born in Room 302, became the inn’s horseman, and made history when he saved several stagecoach passengers from a charging horse. Boots had a love of tapdancing and drinking alike. In 1902, he died while rescuing a child from a rooftop, and visitors to the inn say they occasionally hear him tapdancing up on the roof.
The Hawthorne Hotel: Salem, Massachusetts
Photo: The Hawthorne Hotel
Located in the heart of Witch City,
the Hawthorne is located a stone’s throw from the Salem Witch Museum. Opened as a “modern hotel” in 1925, it has seen its share of fame. An episode of Bewitched was filmed here, and a famous séance took place in the 1990s when psychics attempted to contact the ghost of Harry Houdini. Guests report moving furniture, unexplained noises, and the spirit of a woman wandering the halls. Rumor has it that Rooms 612 and 325 have the most paranormal activity.
Word to the wise: if you’re thinking about
visiting Witch City in October, you need to book pretty far in advance for most hotels, Airbnbs, and bed-and-breakfasts — especially the weekend before Halloween.
The Elms Hotel and Spa: Excelsior Springs, Missouri
Photo: The Elms Hotel and Spa/Hyatt
Ghost Hunters, The Elms boasts paranormal tours and friendly ghosts. Sightings by guests of this more than 130-year-old destination spa and hotel include those of a housekeeper in a 1920s-style uniform and the spirit of a gambler in the lap pool. The mineral waters in and around what is now known as Excelsior Springs are said to have healing properties, and the hotel was even established in the 1880s as a luxury health resort but suffered more than one damaging fire in its history. It’s said Al Capone loved to party here.
The Don Cesar: St. Pete Beach, Florida
Built in the 1920s,
the sprawling pink palace at St. Pete Beach is an icon in itself. Built by real estate tycoon Thomas Rowe as a tribute to his lost love, the pink castle was left to Rowe’s estranged wife, Mary, after he died in the lobby in 1940. It’s said he still haunts the place, seen walking the halls, often in his signature white suit and Panama hat.
The hotel staff also believe the building is haunted by other spirits, including those who came here when it was a hospital during WWII. After the war, the building served as VA headquarters until it became vacant in 1969. It sat empty, decaying, for several years and was nearly demolished before being revamped in the early 1970s.